Scratch those itchy feet when lockdown is lifted and treat your car, and yourself, to a long leisurely drive up the Garden Route, says NATALIA ROSA:
The adventurer in you will want to get out into the great outdoors and connect with nature the second you can. We’re betting on July to September being a great time to do it, with these first-hand tips, tricks and things to do, as suggested by Garden Route locals, to help pave the way.
Whale watching in Plett
There’s no better time to spot those gentle giants off the Garden Route coast. Watch from land or by boat as the Southern Right and Humpbacks breach, loll and slap the water with the grace of an Olympic gymnast. The best base to go whale watching is none other than Plettenberg Bay. If you’re lucky, you won’t need to leave the shore, picking your spot along Robberg and Keurboom beaches to watch them frolic about in the bay. Take to the water with Ocean Blue Adventures, with several daily boat departure times on offer, or paddle out in a sea kayak, perhaps to add a view of the breeding colony of Cape fur seals to the mix.
Above the tree line and into the kloof
Zip, soar and swing above the trees when you visit the Garden Route. You can choose from an array of zip-lining and canopy tours to monkey bridges and Tarzan swings as you journey along this adventure playground. Buckle up for a wild ride at Tsitsikamma Canopy Tour and sit suspended 30 metres above the forest floor before cable sliding from tree to tree through the spectacular Tsitsikamma indigenous forest. Head to Acrobranch Garden Route testing your agility on one of its obstacle courses – Swinging Tarzan being a favourite. Then, venture to Plett for the rush of a river adventure with Africanyon as you tube, abseil and kloof your way through an exhilarating few hours.
In the saddle
Load up your bike for a mountain biking adventure along the Garden Route. Whether you choose to put pedal to the metal on your own, or to embark on an organised bicycle tour, you’ll be thrilled with the variety of trails on offer. None of the routes are quite as spectacular than the one that traverses Montagu Pass. This 33 km route links Herold and George, climbing to an altitude of 780 m. Fit and raring to stretch those lockdown legs? You could choose to cycle the route all the way to Oudtshoorn, 118 km of pure adrenalin. In the mood for something a little more sedate? Take the family for a scenic ride on Fancourt Estate’s mountain bike trail in George, or embark on one of the Estate’s outdoor trails of varying lengths to accommodate all fitness levels and ages. Bikes are available for guests to rent at the Leisure Centre.
Out and about on foot
For those wishing to get around under their own steam, the Garden Route serves up an array of hiking and trail running treasures for various levels of fitness. Favourites to add to your list if you’re staying at Fancourt in George, include the Groeneweide, Pass-to-Pass and Tierkop hiking trails. A little further afield, in Wilderness, is the Pied Kingfisher trail and Perdekop hiking trail between Plett and Knysna. If you happen to find yourself in Plett, you should certainly lace up your boots for the Robberg Hiking Trail. There are three circular routes ranging in length from a 30-minute stroll to a four-hour hike, all delivering spectacular views.
Underground chambers and tunnels
A visit to the Cango Caves is a visit to a national treasure. Even if you’re a tiny bit claustrophobic, you’ll still enjoy the 60-minute Heritage Tour through the first six largest and spectacular underground halls. For those of you who want to wriggle through tight spaces, the aptly named 90-minute Adventure Tour will take you through exciting passages and narrow tunnels as you delve into the depths of this ancient limestone cave system underneath Oudtshoorn.
Keep your feet on dry land and embark on a dune adventure in Brenton-On-Sea. You’ll learn how to sandboard down the dunes with the whole family, stretching your core to the limit. This one’s suitable for anyone over the age of five, even beginners. And when you’re not tumbling or sliding down the dunes, there’s the added benefit of the beautiful coastal backdrop. Keep aside a few hours for this epic experience.
For water babies
From kayaking to kite surfing, the Garden Route’s rugged coastline provides many opportunities for all kinds of water sports. Kayak or laze on a lilo up Storms River Gorge, board a RIB adventure power boat from Buffalo Bay to Noetzie Castle or head to Sedgefield and kitesurf in Myoli Bay. Pick your level of adrenalin on the water. The Garden Route serves up everything between the sedate and scary!